If you are an avid swimmer or surfer then a rash guard should be of extreme importance to you.
You want to be able to keep warm when you are out in cold water and you also want to make sure that you are protected from the sun’s UV rays.
If you are a surfer, you are especially going to want to get a rash guard so that you can avoid scraping your body up when you are moving around on your board.
Different rash guards are made with different purposes in mind and it is important to make sure that you are buying the proper rash guard for your needs so that you can be sure you are protected for whatever you are doing out on the water.
Best Surfing & SUP Rash Guards for the Money
What To Consider Before Buying
In order to help you with this task, we have created a rash guard buying guide that goes over the various aspects of a rash guard to help make you more aware of the things that you should be on the lookout for.
Thermal Rash Guards:
This is the type of guard you will want to be on the lookout for if you are going to be out in cold water conditions. This type of guard is made up of thick fabric material, which results in more insulation for your body and will keep you warmer.
You will generally find that these rash guards are made up of a neoprene material, which is great at insulating your body and keeping you cozy and warm. You will notice that the thickness of the material will be listed on the product and this is your indication for just how warm the rash guard will keep you.
The measurement is usually given as two different numbers and looks something like 4/2. In this example, the first number (4) refers to the thickness of the torso of the rash guard. The second number (2) refers to how thick the sides of the rash guard are.
The numbers are usually stated in millimeters.
Although neoprene material is the most commonly used due to its ability to keep you warm, there are several other types of rash guards on the market that you will come across in your search.
If you don’t just need a rash guard to keep you warm or if you are looking for something that doesn’t have the feeling of neoprene, then you may be interested in getting a rash guard made of one of these materials:
- Lyra – This type of fabric is designed so that it is quite stretchy. The stretchy design allows the fabric to conform better to your body than some other types of rash guards. You will find that a rash guard made out of this material is very quick to dry and it allows you to have a better range of motion than some others on the market.
- Polyester – This type of material is ideal for a hot environment. This is due to the fact that polyester is great at a process called sweat wicking. In other words, the rash guard is able to remove sweat from your body and push it through the fabric to the exterior of the rash guard. The only problem with this design is that it isn’t all that flexible and it may decrease your range of movement as a result.
- Mixed – This type of fabric is not something that you come across a ton on the marketplace, but you will see it occasionally. Generally, this is a pretty reliable fabric as the manufacturer usually makes the fabrics into a blend of somewhat flexible fabric with a decent range of movement and some protection from the cold. This may be the type to look for if you want something that is kind of the average in the marketplace.
- Nylon/ Spandex – This type of rash guard is among the most flexible guards on the market. It is extremely important to make sure that you get something fairly tight fit when you are buying this type of a rash guard, otherwise, you may notice that the rash guard doesn’t fit you sometime down the road. Nylon/ spandex is known to be quick drying and it will offer you a tight, but comfortable fit.
Many people avoid checking out the manufacturer of the clothes that they make, but if you want to be good for the environment or make sure that you are buying something that is legitimate then this is something that you should most definitely do.
In order to get a grasp of the kind of quality that a particular manufacturer offers it is a good idea to check out the warranty on the product that you are interested in. The length of warranty offered is a good tell for how good of quality the product really is.
If the manufacturer is willing to put money on the quality of their product for that length of time, it is highly likely that the product will actually last that long.
How to Buy a Rash Guard that Fits Properly
In order to make sure that you buy a rash guard that fits properly, you need to make sure that you wear the rash guard how you are going to wear it.
If you are ordering online, you need to know your size is and then decide if you are going to wear it under a wetsuit if you want to wear it normally or loose and on top.
All rash guards are designed to be lightweight in design and are generally made so that they are nice and snug to your body. Therefore, if you want to wear one loosely it is a good idea to get one size up from your regular size.
If you get the chance to try on the rash guard before you purchase it, it is a good idea to do so as different makes will certainly conform to your body in different ways than others even when they are supposedly the same size.
If you are buying online, it is a good idea to check out the return policy in order to make sure that you can return the product after trying it on as some manufacturers do have policies against that, which are in place.
If you are buying a rash guard and you plan to wear it underneath your wetsuit when you are doing something like snorkeling or surfing, you are going to want to make sure that the rash guard is long enough.
The guard should be able to pull down over your suit bottom so that your back isn’t exposed to the sun.
You will know after your first day of using the rash guard if you got one that was too small or too loose, as the shirt will likely have slipped upwards resulting in you having a sunburn on your back.
There is certainly no one size fits all option when it comes to rash guards and getting the proper size is crucial for both your comfort as well as for your skin.
This is one part of a shirt that a lot of people overlook. If you don’t want a sunburn on your neck, you may want to consider getting a shirt that has a collar built into its design.
The taller the collar is, the less likely you are to get a badly burnt neck. Always remember that you can still wear sunscreen in the water, you just have to make sure that it is waterproof otherwise it won’t do you any good.
Should I get a short sleeve or long sleeve?
This is a debate that a lot of people have when they are trying to choose a rash guard. If you want to get a rash guard that provides you with the most amount of warmth and the most amount of protection from the sun, then you are going to want to go for a long sleeve design.
However, it is important to be aware that a long sleeve design can cause some movement issues that you won’t have to deal with when it comes to a short sleeve design.
Generally speaking, you are probably best to go with whatever you feel the most comfortable using as it will likely result in a better overall swimming or sporting experience out on the water.
Should I go for a full body rash guard?
The thing about full body rash guards is that they are generally made up of the same kinds of materials that regular rash guards are. This means that if you are comfortable with wearing a regular rash guard, you are likely going to be okay with wearing a full body design.
The nice thing about these designs is that you don’t have to worry about losing your shorts when you are out on the water. The only major downfall is that these types of designs do somewhat restrict your movement and may not be as comfortable to wear as a result.
If you live in a tropical area of the world, you may want to consider getting a full body rash guard or getting at least something that has a long sleeved design. If you were ever to get stung by something like a jellyfish, you could end up in the hospital or even dead, depending on the circumstances.
There are plenty of other poisonous creatures and coral around and all it can take is a simple poke to cause a serious injury. If you are wearing a full body suit or at least a rash guard with long sleeves, you stand a better chance of coming out of the water unharmed.
Is the Color of a Rash Guard Important?
The answer to this question ranges from person to person both based on personal preference as well as what kind of a task you are doing when you are out on the water and what the climate is like in your area.
It is important to remember that black is a color that absorbs the sun’s rays and dark colors will do the same. If you are looking to be warm when you are out on the water and the weather is cold where you live, you are going to want to get something dark.
On the other hand, if the weather is already hot where you live and you want something that won’t absorb the sun’s rays and therefore won’t be as hot, you are going to want to look for something that is close to white or at least a light colored design.
Ultraviolet protection ratings:
This is one factor that you are definitely going to want to pay attention to as it has an impact on everyone who is outdoors regardless of what you are doing.
Just like a sun tan lotion does, rash guards will also have ratings on them in order to tell you what kind of protection they offer from ultraviolet rays. The rating will be under the product’s UPF or ultra-protection factor rating.
To give you an idea of what you should look for, the maximum UPF rating is ¬+50. If you were to get a unit that had a +10 rating, for example, the product would have some protection, but would not protect you nearly as much as a +50 or even a +30.
Hopefully, after reading this article you now feel as though you are more knowledgeable about rash guards and feel more confident that you can make a good purchasing decision for yourself.
It is always a good idea to consider looking at company warranty before you make your final decision as the length of warranty can range a lot from unit to unit and it can really help to give you some peace of mind with your purchasing decision.
Best of luck finding yourself a new rash guard and hope you have yourself an awesome time out on the water!
image: surfers with rash vest aka rashie aka rash guard by dr. andres cordova (original)Mathias Poujol-Rost (crop) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons